I recently attended a series of events in Houston TX designed to witness to the pain of gun violence and equip local faith communities to take action to end gun violence in Houston. One event was a disarming held at Houston Mennonite Church.
On September 4, four guns were disarmed for the owners including an AR15. Several in attendance were able to learn how to position a gun on a chop saw and make a cut. We had four saws available to be used under the guidance of Mike Martin with RAWtools. Christian writer and activist, Shane Claiborne, led the group in prayer as this was a very emotional event for one gun owner in particular.
Holding space for grief and trauma is why we are asking churches to become disarming congregations. We want to end gun violence and to do so involves more than just taking guns out of homes. Churches can be agents of transformation for not just the gun as it is disarmed and turned into a garden tool, but also for people. I know every time I participate in disarming guns my despair and hopelessness around the inaction of lawmakers to pass laws that will save lives is transformed and I feel empowered to take action. While our lawmakers continue to put gun industry profits above public safety, we can take steps to end gun violence by demanding that the spaces we spend time in are free from guns.
We can do this by asking about guns in the places in which you and your children or grandchildren spend time. Is there a gun in the home? If so, how is it stored? We can encourage our churches and the businesses we frequent to have signage (like the ones available in our Congregational Toolkit) that say no guns are allowed. And our churches can be places where gun owners can regularly bring their guns to be disarmed and transformed from instruments of death into instruments of life as the created scrap is turned into garden tools or other other objects of beauty like art and jewelry by RAWtools.
We want to help your congregation become a disarming congregation by creating action circles where you can join with other congregations from across the country for learning and support as we take action to end gun violence together. Each action circle will meet initially for 5 weeks and will include sharing best practices on how to get your congregation on board, learning how to work a chopsaw and other logistics involved with holding a disarming event as well as other topics like do you need to involve the police? What is the difference between a disarming event and a gun buy back? How many volunteers will we need?
Now is the time to start planning for holding an event in the first quarter of 2022. February 20 is the Universal Day of Prayer for Students and what better way to show students that you care about the pain, trauma and anxiety they suffer because of school shootings than by disarming guns in your community. Every cut of the saw blade provides healing, encouragement and empowerment.
Written by: Rev. Deanna Hollas
PPF Gun Violence Prevention Coordinator
Action circles will begin the first week in October
Help your congregation go from interest and passion to action.
This 5-week action circle will help guide you through hosting your first disarming event.